Scottish Government
Printable version

Long-term prisoners

Consultation published on changing the point of release.

Individuals could spend more time under community supervision as part of their prison sentence, a consultation has proposed.

Views are being sought on changing the point of release under licence conditions for people serving a custodial sentence of four years or more, which would provide a more managed return to the community and be a proportionate way to reduce the pressure on the prison estate. The proposals, if implemented, would not apply to those who are serving an extended sentence for violent or sexual offences.

Currently most people serving long-term sentences, unless previously recommended for parole at an earlier stage - are released under community supervision six months before the end of their sentence. Consultation proposals suggest this could be done for a third of their sentence. This would return the position to that prior to 1 February 2016 for most long-term prisoners.

Under the proposals, those released would be subject to licence conditions, supervision, and ultimately recall to custody. The individuals would be subject to individualised risk assessment ahead of release, with licence conditions reflecting the conclusions of that assessment and being set on the recommendations of the Parole Board.

Victims would continue to have the right to receive certain information about a prisoner in their case, including their release dates, and to make representations under the Victim Notification Scheme.

Justice Secretary Angela Constance said:

“Supervision is a commonly used element of custodial sentences – as part of efforts to prepare individuals nearing their return to the community to settle and ultimately to not re-offend. Our proposals would bring forward the point at which long-term prisoners are released so individuals spend more time under licence conditions in the community before the end of their sentence.

“Individuals would continue to serve their sentence but do so in the community under strict supervision, which can improve reintegration back into society and reduce the risk of re-offending.

“We are considering these measures to find a better balance between the time spent in custody and time supervised in the community, particularly following the recent increase in the prison population when Scotland already has one of the highest in Western Europe.

“Public safety will be paramount. Release under licence conditions means strict community supervision and specific support in place informed by robust individual risk assessments of prisoners. These measures would be introduced through legislation, requiring debate and the approval of Parliament. I invite people to share their views.”


Responses to this consultation are invited by 19 August 2024. It can be found here Long-term prisoner release process: consultation - Scottish Government consultations - Citizen Space

Position Paper Prison population: position paper - (

Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article

Latest News from
Scottish Government